Uzbekistan Formalizes Return To Post-Soviet Security Group CSTO


RIA Novosti
11:08 | 28/ 03/ 2008

TASHKENT, March 28 (RIA Novosti) – Uzbekistan’s parliament has ratified
a document formally restoring the Central Asian state’s membership
in the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

Uzbekistan joined the group – designed to fight international
terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, and provide military
assistance to member states in the event of a military threat –
in 1992, but suspended its membership in 1999 along with Georgia
and Azerbaijan.

In December 2006, President Islam Karimov moved to restore membership
in the organization, which some experts say was designed to prevent
NATO’s further eastward expansion and keep former Soviet republics
under Russia’s military protection.

Uzbekistan, once the United States’ ally in its military campaign
against the Taliban, closed a U.S. base providing support to operations
in Afghanistan over criticism of a crackdown by the Uzbek leadership
on protests in Andijan in May 2005, when rights groups claimed hundreds
of civilians were killed by government troops.

However, Karimov, who has ruled the oil and gas-rich nation since
1989, has recently moved to mend ties with the U.S. and other Western
countries by pardoning six jailed human rights activists this year
and promising to liberalize the country’s financial system.

The CSTO bloc also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia,
and Tajikistan.

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